EDUCATION

Not that long ago, the high school in Pittsfield, N.H., had some of the lowest standardized tests scores in the state and was known as a dropout factory.

But over the past six years, the school district has overhauled its approach to education. Now in most classes, grades aren't used to measure progress.

And that is a relief to Jenny Wellington, an English teacher at Pittsfield High School, who says grades never really told her whether her students were actually learning.

Holyoke High School.
File photo / MassLive.com

A Holyoke, Mass. school says it's reviewing its policies after a student's poetry reading blaming whites for oppression drew criticism online. 

Government and nonprofit leaders in Holyoke, Mass., gathered recently to prepare for the expected arrival of people from Puerto Rico.
Jill Kaufman / NEPR

Holyoke was once a robust industrial city, like others along major U.S. rivers in the 19th and 20th centuries. Paper manufacturing was king here, and like other industrial cities Holyoke attracted waves of Irish, French Canadian, German, Polish and Italians immigrants to work in the mills.

Nearly a week after Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, students who can't return to school may need to continue their education on the mainland.

Some of the largest school districts in Florida, plus major cities like New York City and Chicago, are preparing for the possibility of an influx of students from the island.

In South Florida, Miami-Dade County public schools are already working to accommodate students who need to transfer from Puerto Rico.

Homes lay in ruin as seen from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations, Black Hawk during a flyover of Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria September 23, 2017.
Kris Grogan / U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Students, families and many school staff in Holyoke, Massachusetts, are still desperate for news from relatives in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria hit last week.

Several Maine high schools say they’ve never had such a hard time finding students from abroad to help fill out their classrooms.

In Springfield, Massachusetts, A School Divided

Sep 22, 2017
Kaitlin Giorgio, a member of Teach for America, guards the doors at the entrance of the Springfield Honors Academy at the High School of Commerce in Springfield, Massachusetts, on Monday, September 11, 2017.
Brittany Greeson / Crossing The Divide

On an early Monday morning, a stream of sleepy teenagers wearing maroon polos and tan slacks passed under a decorative gothic arch to enter the High School of Commerce in Springfield, Massachusetts.

A school bus in Worcester.
File photo / MassLive

Worcester's mayor said he's hoping school bus drivers in his city vote on Wednesday to accept a five-year contract.

The bus drivers nearly went on strike this week, which could have delayed the first day of school in Worcester. But Mayor Joseph Petty said he asked union leadership to keep talking.

They did and now have a deal, although union members still must approve it.

"My understand [is] it's a good contract," Petty said. "So hopefully they will ratify it, and we won't have to worry about the buses...not running."

A school bus in Worcester.
File photo / MassLive

Updated at 10:00 a.m. on Aug. 29, 2017: A statement from the mayor's office Monday night said the union and bus company reached a 5-year deal, "with the goal of ratification by the union members on Wednesday night."

The union representing school bus drivers in Worcester had considered a strike starting Monday, the first day of school, but agreed to stay on the job for three more days while negotiations continue.

Easthampton School Committee voted teachers will receive training on how to handle information requests from federal immigration officials.
Mary Serreze / MassLive

As a new school year draws near, school officials in Massachusetts are focused on immigration policy, with some districts training their staff how to handle information requests from federal immigration officials.

In May, state Attorney General Maura Healey released guidelines for public schools that detail how cooperative they should be with US Immigration Customs and Customs agents, should they seek information about students. The advisory Healey released said schools can provide basic information, but are not required to.

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